5 Ways SEC Football Will Change with the Addition of Missouri and Texas A&M
Conference expansion, whether for the better or worse, brings change to almost every aspect of the sport. You will not find the SEC in the thick of the conference realignment talks.
You see, the SEC saw opportunity.
Opportunity to expand the brand, raise the bar of competition and expand the influence of the SEC on the local and national levels.
An added bonus is that, since beginning the talks of expansion in 2010, the SEC was prepared to take the offensive stance when it came to the conference realignment.
As the other conferences started moving toward expansion/realignment, the SEC already had answers to the major questions: Who would we invite and why?
So, as the other conferences hold meetings and press conferences, the SEC enjoys two new teams already on the 2012 schedule: Missouri and Texas A&M.
While the other groups figure out what to do now that those two teams are off their menus, let's talk about the impact this expansion will have on SEC football.
Dropping an Expected Game
A team has to play against every team in its division round-robin in order to be eligible to hold a conference championship game at the end of the season.
It's obvious that adding a team in each division is going to call for an additional game against a divisional foe.
There are three ways to address this loss of an opponent:
1) Don't drop a game, drop the bye week. (Not happening, let's move on.)
2) Drop an out-of-conference foe. (The SEC needs these guys to heal during the season.)
3) Drop a cross-divisional foe. (That sounds like a plan.)
All SEC teams have retained their four out-of-conference matches. (Some teams already have four non-conference games scheduled for 2013.)
The SEC, at least for the near future, will likely be dropping a cross-divisional foe until further notice. In all honesty, as long as the SEC keeps showing up in championship games and demolishing the competition, there's no reason not to drop a cross-divisional foe.
Besides, the most important cross-divisional rivals will always meet in the SEC Championship game.
The day may come that we have to look to other conferences to justify selection into the championship game/playoff, but that day is not today. Goodbye to one cross-divisional game per year.
Texas and Missouri now have ties to the SEC. This is a blessing and a curse to the rest of the conference.
It's a curse, because Missouri and Texas natives don't have to choose between the Big XII and the SEC when determining which college to sign with. (For instance, what would DGB do now if he had the Arkansas/Missouri decision to make.)
The recruiting trail will be a little bit harder for the SEC coaches, because they won't have the conference brand to tout as a plus anymore.
However, the blessing is twofold:
1) Missouri and Texas A&M will be facing the rest of the conference every Saturday on the field.
2) The television contract renegotiation will put the SEC games right smack in front of the new teams' recruiting audience.
With Missouri and Texas A&M on TV every Saturday in the living rooms of potential recruits, those kids will see exactly where they stand in the conference pecking order.
No longer will coaches be able to say things along the lines of, "Well, if we ever did play an SEC team, we'd whip 'em."
The evidence will be right there in the W-L column for the recruits to evaluate all by themselves.
Missouri will enter the East division with the skill to be an immediate contender for the No. 3 spot. (Behind South Carolina and Georgia.)
Texas A&M will be contending for the fourth spot in the West division. (Behind LSU, Alabama and Arkansas.)
These teams will immediately have an impact on the conference. Teams just behind them will have a new prey and the teams just ahead of them will have new predators.
The Arkansas-Missouri border rivalry will get intensely hot, and the LSU-Texas A&M rivalry stands to get just as big as the LSU-Arkansas rivalry. (Though it should not take over the rivalry weekend match between the Hogs and Tigers.)
Through all the schedule adjustments, there may be pains, but the new rivalries will be worth it in the long run. Especially with the Longhorn Conference..."ahem"...the Big XII sitting right there watching themselves master the art of irrelevance.
Tiger Bowl Monopoly
The SEC isn't quite there, but the addition of the Missouri Tigers makes the SEC the proud proprietor of all the FBS teams with a Tiger mascot with the sole exception of ACC-perennial-question-mark Clemson.
With the annual match between Auburn and Clemson, that's one Tiger Bowl involving the SEC. LSU vs. Auburn is the second.
Though neither of these next two happen in 2012, Missouri's addition to the SEC yields the possibility of a Missouri-LSU Tiger Bowl and an Auburn-Missouri Tiger Bowl.
There will now be four possible Tiger Bowls in the SEC, and all four of them could prove to be highly entertaining in the future.
I say, let's just go ahead and add Clemson. Let's put all the Tigers in a bowl and find out whose Death Valley is the deadliest while we're at it.
The change in dominance will not occur overnight, and it will not necessarily yield different results from the rest of the BCS era. (Well, not different for the SEC, anyway.)
The Big XII just lost two solid teams, and the SEC just gained them. With the bump in recruiting that the conference should offer these two teams, the Big XII lost teams that can really compete on the national level.
All while not having to watch the Longhorn Network siphon money away from the rest of its conference. This is a win-win for Missouri and Texas A&M.
With the additional funds associated with moving to the SEC, the Aggies and Tigers should have no trouble renovating their athletic complexes. Those renovations will bring more signatures from visiting recruits.
More talent to the SEC means that no matter what system they put in place for the crystal football the SEC should send a ridiculously dominant team to claim it.
SEC reign of terror: to be continued...(evil laughter).